WHITE FISH, Mont. — It should come as no surprise that the Southern Oregon University football team will have to prove itself to the rest of the Frontier Conference after limping to the finish line last season.
The Raiders received an extra jolt of motivation when they were picked to finish seventh in the eight-team circuit’s preseason coaches poll, which was released Tuesday during Frontier Football Media Day.
Montana Western will enter 2022 as the preseason favorite, having collected four of the first eight votes. Carroll (Mont.) drew three first-place votes and tied for second in the poll with Rocky Mountain (Mont.), just ahead of College of Idaho.
College of Idaho, Montana Western and Rocky Mountain shared the 2021 title with identical 7-3 records, though UMW was the conference’s sole representative in the 16-team NAIA Championship Series and bowed out against top-ranked Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) in the conference. first round
SOU will try to bounce back from a 3-7 campaign that was preceded by an inactive season caused by COVID-19. The Raiders lost their last three games by a combined nine points.
They weren’t without quarterback Matt Struck during that final stretch, but the Central Point native and Missouri State transfer is back for another season to lead an offense that returns nine starters with starting experience. Among them are all-conference senior wide receivers Bryce Goggin and Christian Graney, and an offensive line that was green a year ago but remains intact.
SOU head coach Charlie Hall, whose debut season in 2017 marked the Raiders’ most recent Frontier title, earlier this year named a new offensive coordinator in Austin Brown and another for the defense to Neil Fendall.
Fendall’s defensive unit will feature an explosive line anchored by Alejandro Sanchez, an experienced linebacker corps led by Jake Regino and Murphy McDowell, and a host of returning starters in the secondary with Stokes Botelho, DeShawn Craig and Seth Miller.
The Raiders open the season Aug. 27 against Rocky Mountain in Ashland. Season tickets and individual game tickets will be available next week.
BORDER PRE-SEASON SURVEY
(First place votes in parentheses)
1. Montana Western (4)43
2. Carroll (Mont.) (3)37
3. Rocky Mountain (Mont.)37
4. College of Idaho (1)33
5. Montana Tech30
6. Eastern Oregon19
7. Southern Oregon17
8. State of Montana-North8